Bucs’ Howard: ‘I think I’ll be able to come in and make plays when it’s time’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard was hoping to have a breakout year in 2020, and after four games, he was on pace to have career-highs in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. However, in Week 4 against the Chargers, Howard ruptured his Achilles tendon, which caused him to miss the rest of the season.

The 26-year-old is back, and according to Howard, the Achilles is feeling good.

“It’s awesome to be back. I’m just working to get back to where I want to be,” Howard said on Monday. “It’s good to be back around the guys and be in the huddle again. The Achilles feels good. It’s just one day at a time for me right now, but I’m just so happy to be back.”

Coming back from a ruptured Achilles is never easy, but the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft feels he’s slowly getting back to himself.

“My conditioning level is really good right now but getting into football shape, of course, is different,” he said. “We’re getting it in, but we’re being smart about it. The most important thing for us is Sept. 9 and playing weeks after that.”

The goal for the five-year veteran is to get better in all aspects of the game. Howard worked on his run blocking and his pass-catching in the offseason, which he discussed on Monday.

“I just tried to study every aspect of my game,” he said. “I took the top guys in my position pass-catching wise and took the top of my position run blocking wise. I studied all six of them. I just tried to steal things from their tapes and try to evaluate my game. I think it’s been translating over to the field as I’ve been getting acclimated to the field.

“As far as my production on the team this year, I think I’ll be able to come in and make plays when it’s time. We’ll have our opportunities based on who we have out in our receiver corps. My position, in general, is going to have a chance to open the middle and make plays, so when we get those chances, we must be ready. I think we’ll have a lot of those this year.”

This is a big year for Howard, who can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. If he wants to get big money, whether with the Bucs or elsewhere, he has to prove he’s back from the injury, and he has to produce.

Giants’ Lawrence: ‘This whole offseason I worked on myself, I worked on learning my position’

Dexter Lawrence is listed as a 6-4, 342-pounder on the Giants’ roster, so it’s no surprise he’s usually not impressed by a teammate’s size. But Danny Shelton, who checks in at 6-2 and 345 pounds, is the rare person who can make Lawrence feel small.

“A little bit,” Lawrence admitted after a training camp practice today. “He’s a massive dude, but good personality. He fits right in. I’m excited to be able to work with him.”

Entering his third year, Williams trained this offseason with neither losing nor gaining weight as a goal.

“I was just trying to maintain and shape my body,” he said. “It’s kind of like, I’m to the point that I’m going to be big all my life. Just make it look good … and keep my sexy on.”

The defensive line has a different vibe in this camp. Gone is Dalvin Tomlinson, who started every game the last four years and in 2020 was a captain and the Giants’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. He was enormously popular within the organization. But the Giants could not fit him under the salary cap and still address other needs, so Tomlinson signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

They compensated for the loss by adding Shelton, one of the NFL’s most consistent run-stopping linemen. With him in the middle of the front, the Giants could improve their run defense, which ranked 10th in the NFL last season, allowing 111.4 yards a game.

“Honestly, the group in whole, we all just bond and click,” Lawrence said. “We can coach each other. We can pick on each other. There’s no hard feelings with anything because everybody is genuine. Like I said, he fits right in. He came in and fit right in. He even brought some character to the room, so it’s not a lot of – it’s not like an intruder came. It’s kind of like, it just fit like a puzzle was put in.”

In addition to its abundance of size, the defensive front has plenty of talent. Lawrence, Shelton and Leonard Williams were all first-round draft choices, selected 12th, 17th and sixth in their respective drafts. Williams had a career-high 11.5 sacks and was twice named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week last season. Shelton has 247 career tackles and earned a Super Bowl ring with the 2018 New England Patriots.

Lawrence, who played in all 32 games with 31 starts in his first two Giants seasons, last year tied linebacker Kyler Fackrell for second on the team with 4.0 sacks. He also tallied 53 tackles (30 solo), including six for loss, 10 quarterback hits and two passes defensed.

“I expect more from myself,” Lawrence said. “My main focus is helping the team win games. Whatever I can do to help the team win games is what I will do. I push everybody in practice, the whole D-line, we root for each other. We want to see each other be great, so that’s the whole goal in the room is to help everybody be great.

“My focus this offseason was learning the position more. I know there was a lot that I watched myself on tape that I didn’t exactly know what to do. This whole offseason I worked on myself, I worked on learning my position.”

That should pay dividends for both the Giants and him this season.

“I’m improving every year,” Lawrence said. “The goal as a D-lineman is to be a complete player, to do all you can. You want to play every down. So that’s your goal is to be that complete player and that’s what you work at, taking it stage by stage.”

Via: Michael Eisen

Giants’ Daniel Jones hopes to excel in Year 3

For New York Giants QB Daniel Jones, 2021 will provide an opportunity to prove that he can be the team’s franchise quarterback. In his first two seasons as the Giants starting quarterback, Jones has had some good moments and some not-so-good moments. 

In 26 games as a starter, Jones has thrown 35 touchdown passes, but he has 22 interceptions and 17 lost fumbles, so after two seasons, the Giants probably don’t know what they have in Jones. 

As he enters his third training camp, Jones feels some pressure, but he believes that’s a good thing.

“Yeah, I think at this level, and in this job, we’re all expected to perform and play at a high level every day, and that starts today,” he said. “I certainly feel that. I think everyone on the team does, and I think that’s healthy; I think that’s the way it should be, and I know we’re excited for the opportunity.”

The 24-year-old Jones should benefit from working in OC Jason Garrett’s system for the second straight season, and he will have some new weapons to throw to in Kenny Golladay and rookie Kadarius Toney. Being with Garrett and head coach Joe Judge should benefit Jones, and he discussed that on Tuesday.

“I think it’s valuable,” he said. “I think it’s valuable for all of us. I think it’s the second year in the system under Coach Garrett and [Head] Coach [Joe] Judge. A lot of us are back and, like I said, have developed chemistry and know how to communicate with one another, but kind of the same theme, to start over and take it day by day, to start with step one and make sure we’re going about it the right way. We’ve got several new guys and had some time to get to know them during the spring and in the summer, and we’ll continue to go from there, but definitely helps to be back with Coach Garrett, Coach Judge, and a lot of the same guys.”

It’s a make-or-break year for Jones. If he struggles, the Giants will probably have to look in a different direction at the quarterback position, so the pressure is on Jones to perform at a high level this season, especially if he wants to stay the starting quarterback of the New York Giants going forward.

Vikings’ Dennison to serve as senior offensive advisor, Rauscher named offensive line coach

The Minnesota Vikings have named Phil Rauscher as offensive line coach and added Ben Steele as the team’s assistant offensive line Coach.  Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols and his reported refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, former offensive line coach Rick Dennison will serve as senior offensive advisor, the team announced on Tuesday.

According to the league, Tier 1 staff members, which includes coaches, are expected to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical reason not to do so. Without being vaccinated, coaches will not be able to interact with players on the field or anywhere else at a team’s facility.

Therefore, without the vaccine, it would be difficult for Dennison to his job.

Rauscher is in his second season with the Vikings and his seventh NFL season. Prior to joining the Vikings, Rauscher served as the offensive line coach for the Washington Football Team after being promoted from assistant offensive line coach during the 2019 season.

Steele joins the Vikings staff in his 8th NFL season and his 14th season of coaching overall. His connections with the Vikings date back to his early playing career when he went to training camp with the club in 2003 and 2004. Steele most recently coached in Atlanta, overseeing tight ends in 2020 and spending 2019 as an offensive assistant.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers get their championship rings, and yes, they’re beautiful(VIDEO)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers players, coaches and staff received their Super Bowl LV championship rings at a special ceremony on Thursday evening which was held at the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheater.

The ring design was the result of a collaborative effort between Buccaneers players and team leadership and incorporates a twist-off top – the first of its kind in the NFL.

Removing the top reveals a stunning hand-engraved, three-dimensional replica of Raymond James Stadium, in honor of the team’s historic win on its home field.

The Buccaneers’ Super Bowl LV rings tell the story of the team’s unforgettable 2020 season by incorporating the most relevant accomplishments into the design details.  Containing 15 carats of white diamonds and 14 karat yellow and white gold, the top of the ring features 319 diamonds. On the top are two Lombardi Trophies – representing the franchise’s two Super Bowl Championships – and the team’s signature flag logo, carved from a red stone. The 319 diamonds represent the 31-9 final score in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV victory.

The Lombardi Trophy on the left represents the team’s most recent Super Bowl Championship and features nine diamonds to represent the nine points allowed by the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. The two trophies and flag are surrounded by round diamonds. At the top and bottom of the design are the words “World Champions,” which are diamond encrusted. Those two words are connected by eight diamonds on each side, representing the franchise-record eight-game winning streak to end the season.

The ring was produced by Jason of Beverly Hills, a custom-design jeweler who has produced rings for a number of professional championship teams. This is the first NFL Super Bowl ring produced by the company. 

Watch the making of the Bucs championship ring:

Vikings’ Dennison not fired, talks still ongoing with team

Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Rick Dennison is still with the team after reports surfaced that he was dismissed due to his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Friday, the Vikings released a statement, and according to the team, talks are still ongoing with Dennison.

“The Vikings continue to hold discussions with Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison regarding the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols for training camp and preseason games,” the team said in a statement,” team said. “At this time, Coach Dennison does not have an exemption to the vaccination requirements of those protocols. We will adhere to the requirements of the protocols and of applicable law.”

Dennison’s refusal comes on the heels of the league’s announcement about the possibility of forfeits and loss of game checks if they’re cancellations caused by unvaccinated players.

According to the league, Tier 1 staff members, which includes coaches, are expected to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical reason not to do so. Without being vaccinated, coaches will not be able to interact with players on the field or anywhere else at a team’s facility.

The 63-year-old Dennison has been the offensive line coach in Minnesota since 2019 and has been a coach in the NFL for 27 years.

This is an interesting situation for sure. Obviously, some will refuse to take the vaccine, but the NFL, as a private entity, can mandate that their coaches and players get vaccinated. The league has not said that they have to get vaccinated, but they are not making it easy for anybody that doesn’t get it done. 

Giants place Barkley, Rudolph on PUP list

The New York Giants placed RB Saquon Barkley, TE Kyle Rudolph, and four others on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, the team announced on Thursday.

Barkley is looking to return after tearing his right ACL last September, while Rudolph is working his way back from offseason foot surgery.

In addition to Barkley and Rudolph, center Jonotthan Harrison (hamstring), tackle Matt Peart (back), linebacker Oshane Ximines (hamstring), and rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson (core muscle), the team’s third-round draft choice, was also placed on the PUP list.

According to the NFL, players on the Active/PUP list can be activated at any time during training camp. If they are still on the list at the final roster cutdown to 53, they must either be activated or moved to the Reserve/PUP list. Players on the Reserve/PUP list must be inactive for the first six weeks.



Giants’ Toney placed on Reserve/COVID-19 list

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney, the Giants’ first selection in the 2021 NFL draft, has been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced on Thursday.

The Giants’ rookies reported yesterday for training camp. Toney is following the NFL protocols by isolating and participating in meetings remotely, according to the team.

The Giants selected Toney from the University of Florida with the 20th selection in this year’s draft after trading with the Chicago Bears to move back from No. 11. 

On other moves, the Giants have signed running back Mike Weber and defensive back Jordyn Peters.

Weber was a seventh-round draft choice in 2019 by the Dallas Cowboys, then coached by Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Weber spent that entire season on Dallas’ practice squad. He has also been with Kansas City and Green Bay and was released by the Packers on June 9.

In three seasons at Ohio State, Weber rushed for 2,757 yards and 24 touchdowns and caught 54 passes for 297 yards.

Peters was signed as a rookie free agent by the Jets on May 2 and waived on July 2. In his four seasons at Auburn, Peters played in 50 games and had 101 tackles (60 solo), 2.0 sacks and one interception.

Jaguars sign rookies’ Etienne, Campbell, Little

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed rookie RB Travis Etienne Jr., CB Tyson Campbell, and OL Walker Little, the team announced on Tuesday.

With the signing of the three players, the entire 2021 Jaguars’ draft class is now signed and ready to go for training camp.

The Jaguars selected Etienne with the 25th overall pick of the 2021 draft. Etienne, 22, played in 55 games with 42 starts at Clemson. He is the ACC’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,952), total touchdowns (78), rushing touchdowns (70), and points (468). 

Campbell, 21,  was selected in the second round (No. 33 overall) of the 2021 draft. Campbell played in 33 games at the University of Georgia and finished his collegiate career with 89 total tackles (58 solo), 11 passes defensed, and one INT.

The Jaguars selected Little in the second round (No. 45 overall) of the 2021 draft. Little, 22, played in 22 games at Stanford from 2017-19. In 2017, he became the first player at Stanford to start at left tackle as a true freshman since Kirk Chambers in 2000 and was the Pac-12 Freshman Co-Offensive Player of the year and earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention accolades. 

Rookies report to training camp on Tuesday, while veterans report on July 27.

Jags officially sign number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed rookie QB Trevor Lawrence, the team announced on Monday.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a four-year, $36.8 million contract that includes $24.1 million in guaranteed money and the standard fifth-year option.

The Jaguars selected Lawrence with the first overall pick of the 2021 draft. Lawrence, 21, played in 40 games with 36 starts at Clemson from 2018-20. His 34-2 (.944)  record as a starter is the third-best winning percentage by a starting quarterback with at least 30 career starts in college football history since 1978. He finished his career undefeated as a starter in regular season play and did not lose a regular season game at either the high school or collegiate levels. Lawrence led the Tigers to a national championship as a true freshman in 2018.

For his career, Lawrence completed 758-of-1138 passes (66.6 percent) for 10,098 yards, 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He holds several school records, including career winning percentage.